From Pyramid to Plate

While it looks totally 90s and archaic now, I was really fond of the Food Pyramid as a kid. Sure, I would have liked to expand that triangle at the top to fill half the pyramid, but I’d never been much of a picky eater so I could live with the way the adults had sorted it all out. As a kid, it felt good that the world of food was so simple. I loved how easy it was to understand.

Too bad that was its problem.

Most dieticians now agree that the Food Pyramid debuted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1992 was way out of whack. According to the Food Pyramid, I could have eaten a loaf of super enriched white bread every day and still fallen within its guidelines for healthy living.

There was a lot of missing information from my education on healthy eating as a kid that I’ve only begun to discover as an adult. For instance, the Food Pyramid never delved into the subgroups of each block. It did not differentiate between processed and multi-grains, between saturated and unsaturated fats or between the proteins in meat, fish and nuts. Some dieticians are now attributing the sharp increase in diabetes among Americans in the past 20 years to the disproportionately large serving of enriched grains encouraged by the Food Pyramid.

In 2011 the Food Pyramid was replaced with the MyPlate food guide, which divides up the four major food groups like a pie-chart on a plate. It’s a little confusing because the MyPlate icon is meant to show the relative percentages of each food group you should eat each day, not the portions. It’s not perfect either, but it’s certainly serviceable. As much as the Food Pyramid was a defining part of my childhood I hope the next generation of kids will grow up better informed about their food!

Have any thoughts on the Food Pyramid or MyPlate? Share with us in the comments!

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